The pen gets more power as book-to-screen adaptations surge


It’s the season for book-to-screen adaptations. After  Gangubai Kathiawadi, the Alia Bhat-starrer based on the novel  Mafia Queens of Mumbai by Hussain Zaidi, all eyes are on Mani Ratnam’s big-budget movie  Ponniyin Selvan I, based on Kalki Krishnamurthy’s magnum opus.

Globally, too, all eyes are on how Amazon’s $1-billion gamble on JR Tolkien’s classic  The Lord of The Rings, which was released globally on Prime Video as a 50-hour series on Friday, pays off.

But whether movie adaptations succeed or not, it’s great tidings for publishing and books. Ever since the news of the release of  Ponniyin Selvan I movie came, the sales of the book, which already is a best-seller, has gone through the roof, with several English translations coming up too.

By selling the movie rights, authors may earn more than simply book deals, and many have begun penning epics with elements of folklore and history.

Rise of OTT platforms

As Arcopol Chaudhuri, Executive Editor, Rights & New Media, HarperCollins India, points out about the influence of  Ponniyin Selvan, “It has inspired more writers to write more character-driven stories, rooted in India’s history and its personalities, in a manner that is easily adaptable for screen. There is so much about India and its history, its folklore and recent history that is still unseen and not widely known. If the writer can inform, entertain and strike a chord with the reader, he/she can build a strong connect.”

The advent of OTT platforms has opened the floodgates for book-to-screen adaptations. Several books have successfully been adapted into successful series for OTT platforms such as  Sacred Games, A Suitable Boy, Leila, Selection Day and  Class of ’83. “The big sort of tentpole movies will come into the movie theatres but the high concept ideas which were earlier going to the movie theatres may not go to the movie theatres or they’ll have a very limited run and they’ll go directly to OTT streaming and that is where books play a big role. A book can be adapted to a small or mid-size show… it can go in any direction,” says Anish Chandy, founder of Labyrinth Literary Agency.

However, Siddharth Jain, Founder and Producer at The Story Ink, says, “What has happened in the pandemic is that the demand has gone up for stories but the ability to afford these stories has gone down.” Be that as may, Jain admits it is a great time to be in the storytelling industry.

Published on

September 03, 2022

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